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Across the Country

2019 State Legislation Review: Fewer Children in the Adult System

Brian Evans Friday, 20 December 2019 Posted in 2019, Across the Country, Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

This year, the real-life story of five children wrongfully arrested and convicted in New York, dramatized in the Netflix series “When They See Us”, reminded us why protecting children from the criminal justice system is so important. The film was timely, reflecting and amplifying a point of view that has been increasingly, though not universally, adopted across ideological, geographical, and party lines. In 2019, states continued to push and pass positive legislation keeping children out of the adult criminal justice system.

Youth Justice Leaders Must Speak Out on the Border Crisis

By Rachel Marshall , CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel Thursday, 22 August 2019 Posted in Across the Country

By Rachel Marshall , CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel

As an organization that works to end the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system, every day my colleagues and I work to educate the public and policymakers on the horrors of subjecting our nation’s young people to the adult criminal justice system. Research shows that the placement of youth in adult facilities are at a higher risk of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. But even if youth remain in the juvenile justice system and are incarcerated in juvenile facilities, they are still at risk for abuse and irreversible trauma. Thanks to excellent investigative reporting, we know that incarcerated youth are too often subjected to horrific abuse at the hands of facility staff.

The New Netflix Limited Series "When They See Us" Provides an Inside Look at the Power of Prosecutors and Media in Youth Incarceration Cases

By Aprill O. Turner CFYJ Communications Director Thursday, 30 May 2019 Posted in Across the Country

By Aprill O. Turner, CFYJ Communications Director

NOTE: CFYJ Communications Director, Aprill Turner appeared on WHUR.FM (Washington, DC) with cast member of "When They See Us", Asante Blackk. Check out the full interview here--What You Will Learn From the Documentary of Central Park 5.

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Today Netflix releases the highly anticipated limited series, Ava DuVernay's "When They See Us". The series chronicles the story of the tragic Central Park Five case about five teenage boys of color from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of the rape of a white woman which they didn't commit in 1989, and the 25-year fight for justice following their conviction.

The Campaign for Youth Justice had the opportunity to participate in an advanced screening of the film last month in New York, along with other social and criminal justice advocacy organizations.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

By Cherice Hopkins, Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls Thursday, 24 January 2019 Posted in 2019, Across the Country

The JJDPA is an Important Victory in the Continuing Efforts to End the Criminalization of Child Sex Trafficking Survivors

By Cherice Hopkins, Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and anti-sex trafficking advocates and juvenile justice advocates have mutual cause to celebrate—the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) after 16 years. Before the Act was signed into law last December, it had not been updated since 2002. During that span of time, much knowledge was gained about youth development and best practices for youth safety and treatment. Likewise, the past decade and a half has seen an increase in the understanding of the prevalence and harms of domestic child sex trafficking, including a growing awareness of the need to end our nation’s carceral response to these young survivors of violence. The updated JJDPA plays a critical role in ensuring that this important knowledge is incorporated into our juvenile justice policies and practices, including those that impact trafficking survivors.

The Senate Can Decide: Are Children a Part of Thanksgiving?

By Sarah Bryer and Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 20 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

This week as families gather to break bread, give thanks, and count their blessings—there are 45,000 children locked in secure facilities across this country who will be absent from their families’ tables. 4000 of them will be in adult jails; at least one as young as the tender age of ten.

The Results Are In: Did The Country #VoteYouthJustice?

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel Monday, 12 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel

The 2018 midterm elections have come to an end, and, while the outcomes of some races remain unknown, it is safe to say that the outcome for young people across the country was overwhelmingly positive. While most of the country was glued to the results in competitive U.S. House and Senate races, it was the state and local elections that that will make a huge difference in the lives of young people.

Starting with the top state executive, twenty states will welcome new governors in 2019. One of those new governors includes Tony Evers in Wisconsin. Governor-Elect Evers will be tasked with overseeing the closure of two juvenile prisons. Early in 2018, current Governor Scott Walker announced a plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections and treatment system, and in March, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires that two juvenile facilities, Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, to close by January 2021. Both facilities have been subject to investigations and lawsuits over allegations of excessive use of force, abuse, and neglect. Governor-Elect Evers campaigned on criminal justice reform, and his Lieutenant Governor-Elect, Mandela Barnes, showed a strong commitment to juvenile justice reform during his time in the Wisconsin General Assembly. While it is not often the case that a new governor will see through the projects of the past administration, this shift is likely to greatly benefit youth in the justice system (and hopefully pave the way for Wisconsin to FINALLY join 46 other states in raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18).

All Tricks, No Treats for Some Young Teens This Halloween

By Katie Rankin, CFYJ Policy and Research Legal Fellow Monday, 29 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Katie Rankin, CFYJ Policy and Research Legal Fellow


Halloween is one of those quintessential holidays of childhood--when we still allow children to be children, engaging in fantasy play, and drumming up some harmless, time-tested tricks. We now learn--that even trick-or-treating is available to only some of our children; for children of color, the tricks on them - and it’s not funny. Recently, news stories have highlighted several  municipalities in Virginia whose “Halloween Rules” make the holiday anything but childlike. The law for each locality differs, but the overriding feature establishes age limits and a curfew for the night. These Virginia towns are not alone - cities across the country have similar ordinances that govern trick-or-treating on Halloween. The laws are not new; Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Virginia created their laws in 1968 and 1970, respectively. Portsmouth had a particularly bad Halloween in 1967 when a 14-year-old was stabbed and a high amount of vandalism occurred. In response to this, members of the community petitioned the city to create the age and time limit Halloween law that remains on the books today.

Girls Justice Day! Why Justice Reform Efforts Must Center the Voices of System-Involved Girls

By Rebecca Burney, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rights4Girls and Katie Rankin, CFYJ Research and Policy Legal Fellow Thursday, 25 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Rebecca Burney, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rights4Girls and Katie Rankin, CFYJ Research and Policy Legal Fellow

In celebration of Girls’ Justice Day, we encourage you to uplift the voices of our most marginalized young women and girls. October marks both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Youth Justice Action Month, so it is only fitting that we focus on the experiences of girls in the juvenile justice system and the link between abuse and system-involvement.  However, all of our justice reform efforts must center the opinions of justice-involved girls who are the experts on their lived experiences.  We must listen to them.

The Negative Effect of “Hardening” Schools on Students of Color

Nicole Dooley and Rachel Marshall Monday, 22 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Nicole Dooley, Policy Counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel for the Campaign for Youth Justice

After the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, people across the country again started having too-familiar conversations around how to keep students safe from violence at school. These conversations covered a wide range of topics, from students discussing clear backpacks, to teachers and administrators taking emergency preparedness trainings, to state and federal lawmakers deciding how to spend money to make schools safer.

Our Unheard Voices: Youth On the Margins

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts Wednesday, 17 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts

With more than three decades between us working with young people in the criminal justice system, we knew exactly where we wanted to go to raise the volume on young voices. Especially with the 2017 California law ensuring the voting rights of people incarcerated in juvenile and adult jail facilities…we went directly to the juvenile halls and probation camps of Los Angeles County.

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